Tag Archives: John McCain

Sen. Kyl is his own man, however …

It didn’t take Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey long to fill an important seat in the U.S. Senate.

He picked a one-time former senator, Jon Kyl, to succeed the late, great John McCain in the upper congressional chamber. It’s a solid, mainstream selection, with one conservative Republican succeeding another conservative Republican.

A part of me, though, wishes something different from Sen. Kyl, who rejoins his colleagues.

Sen. McCain, who died on Aug. 25 of brain cancer, was known as a maverick. He was courageous and unafraid to challenge partisan orthodoxy within his own GOP. He incurred the wrath of far-right conservatives who actually, with a straight face, accused McCain of being a RINO, a Republican in Name Only; such a preposterous notion is laughable on its face.

McCain sought a return to “regular order” in the Senate. He despaired of the cult of personality that has taken over many within the Republican Party, which has become the Party of Donald Trump. His clashes with the president — stemming in part from the insults and the disparagement that Donald Trump would hurl at McCain — became legendary.

My hope for Jon Kyl is that he follows his predecessor’s lead. He isn’t known to be as feisty as McCain could be when the occasion presented itself. Then again, he is occupying a seat once held by a man who became legendary in the Senate for the battles he fought with Democrats and Republican.

I realize fully that Sen. Kyl is his own man. He also works for Arizona’s 7 million residents. Perhaps many of them will express their view that Sen. Kyl pick up where Sen. McCain left off.

May the new senator give the president all the hell he deserves.

How will we remember POTUS No. 45?

They have laid John McCain to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The late U.S. senator’s farewell was fitting in every way imaginable. One of the eulogies given in honor of the Arizona Republican accompanies this blog post.

I know others have thought — or perhaps even said it out loud — the question I am about to pose: How is the nation going to remember the current occupant of the White House?

I am trying to imagine someone standing in a church pulpit, be he or she a Democrat or Republican, saying the kinds of things about the current president that were said about Sen. McCain.

It’s remarkable that to me that such respect, admiration would come from leaders of both major parties. They all said essentially the same thing about Sen. McCain: agree or disagree with him, the full measure of this man cannot be quantified in simply political terms. As President Obama noted during his eulogy to Sen. McCain, he was “prepared to die” in service to this country.

I want to bring the current president into this discussion because I know — and you know it, too — that others have thought to themselves about how POTUS No. 45 is going to be remembered when the time comes for us to say farewell.

I am one American who cannot wrap my arms around such a thing.

Meghan McCain had every right to say what she said

I want to declare one more time — and I hope it’s the final time — that Megan McCain didn’t say a single inappropriate thing while paying tribute to her father, the late Sen. John McCain.

I was proud of the courage and steely fortitude she demonstrated while standing in the National Cathedral pulpit to honor the life and heroic public service that her beloved father exhibited for more than six decades.

Listen to her remarks.

And yet to hear some of the gripes from Donald J. Trump’s loyal followers who say she was too cruel, too mean and too vengeful in her remarks simply galls me beyond measure.

She compared her father’s “suffering” while serving the nation to those who lived — at that time — existences of “privilege and comfort.” Yes, she was referring to the president of the United States, who was pointedly not invited to the private funeral in Washington, D.C. Sen. McCain and Trump had serious differences that went far beyond mere policy disagreements. It was personal and visceral.

Think, too, for a moment about the source of the criticism toward Megan McCain. It comes from supporters of a man who (a) has said some hateful and insulting things about his foes and (b) has never apologized for anything he ever says. Trump had the utter gall to say that McCain — a Vietnam War prisoner — was a “war hero because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Well, I happen to like presidents who don’t utter crass and cruel statements about a legitimate American war hero.

The 62 million Americans who voted for Trump in 2016 knew what they were getting when they cast their votes for the one-time reality TV celebrity/serial philanderer/real estate mogul/pathological liar.

Perhaps their criticism of Meghan McCain’s remarks is meant to disguise their own regret for casting their ballots for Donald Trump in the first place … not that many of them will ever acknowledge it publicly. Think of it: That, too, mirrors the attitude demonstrated by their champion, the president of the United States.

Meghan McCain spoke from her broken heart. She also spoke the truth in her father’s honor.

As former Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat, and one of the late senator’s dearest friends, said of Meghan McCain: She clearly “is her father’s daughter.”

Sen. McCain got the sendoff he deserves

It’s been said over the past few days that the pomp, circumstance and pageantry associated with U.S. Sen. John McCain’s funeral is reserved usually for presidents of the United States.

Well, to my mind, the senator deserved all the tributes — and the accompanying ritual — that he received.

The great man’s six decades of public service all alone was worthy of the salute bestowed to him.

The eulogies delivered in Phoenix by former Vice President Joe Biden and in Washington by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush spoke volumes about the nature of the ceremony that the late U.S. senator planned for his farewell.

It was Vice President Biden who introduced himself to the crowd assembled by saying, “I’m Joe Biden; I am a Democrat: and I loved John McCain.”

And so it went as the nation poured out its heart to memorialize the iconic Republican lawmaker.

I was glad that the ceremonies didn’t dwell too heavily on the single aspect of McCain’s service to the country — his five-plus years as a Vietnam War prisoner. But it was there. It was impossible to set that part of his sacrifice aside.

The last public figure to get this kind of sendoff was President Ford, who died in 2006. Then it fell to others to deliver such a heartfelt salute to a man who fought a valiant battle against disease.

He already had battled his wartime captors. And he won that fight.

Sen. John McCain was the rare public figure who emerged even bigger after he lost the toughest political battles of his life: his unsuccessful campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000 and his losing bid for the office in the 2008 election against Barack Obama.

With that, the nation has bid farewell to a gallant warrior and a true-blue American hero.

May this sometimes irascible man rest in peace.

As he said of himself, Sen. McCain “lived and died a proud American.”

The country he loved and served with honor and distinction is better because he came along.

The message was clear, as was its intended target

I am quite certain that Donald John Trump is going to be pretty steamed when he catches up with the events of today.

The president was pointedly not invited to the late Sen. John McCain’s funeral. He and McCain had differences that went far beyond policy matters. Trump disparaged McCain’s heroism during the Vietnam War, when he was held captive as a POW for more than five years. When the senator became stricken with the brain cancer that took his life the other day, Trump continued to harangue against the senator’s “no” vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

McCain took it personally.

The senator did invite Trump’s two immediate predecessors: Presidents Obama and George W. Bush. Both men delivered touching eulogies honoring the life and public service career of the senator.

Both men also delivered messages in tribute to Sen. McCain that could not be mistaken for what they were intended to do: to remind us of the pettiness, petulance and small-mindedness that has infected the White House since Donald Trump became president.

President Bush said McCain didn’t tolerate “swaggering despots.” President Obama praised McCain for calling on Americans to be “bigger” than the politics that are based on “fear.”

“So much of our politics, public life, public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast, and insult, and phony controversies, and manufactured outrage,” Obama said at the National Cathedral.

You know who the 44th president had in mind. So does the current president of the United States.

But, hey … if the shoe fits.

McCain tributes remind us of what has gone wrong

As I have watched the various tributes pouring in to honor the memory of U.S. Sen. John McCain, I am reminded of what some folks might say is the obvious.

I am reminded that as the men and women spoke of the late senator’s principled passion that much of the principle has been decimated in the name of partisan passion.

Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke of his “love” for his political adversary. He spoke of a friendship that transcended partisan differences. The Democratic ex-VP talked about how McCain’s devotion to principle superseded his Republican credentials.

Indeed, the same message came from Senate Majority Leader (and fellow Republican) Mitch McConnell, who today echoed much of what Biden said the previous day. McConnell noted that McCain could be your strongest ally or your most ferocious political foe. Indeed, McConnell and McCain had their differences over campaign finance reform — for which McCain fought and McConnell opposed.

What is missing today? The sense that political opponents need not be “enemies.” McCain could be irascible, grouchy, in your face, profane. He assumed all those postures because he believed strongly in whatever principle for which he was fighting.

Almost to a person, those who memorialized Sen. McCain reminded us of how it used to be in Washington and how it could become once again. If only the late senator’s political descendants would follow his lead.

I have been uplifted by the tributes to this American hero and political titan. I also am saddened by the comparison to the political standards he set to what has become of them in the here and now.

‘Comity’ in Washington is MIA

Few of us ever use the word “comity” in everyday speech. It is a word used by media and politicians to describe a sense of togetherness and civility among public officials.

That word might get a comeback today as the nation bids farewell to U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who preached a return to “order” in politics and sought to reach across to Democrats who served with him and who shared a love of country.

McCain died the other day after a yearlong battle with cancer. His Earthly voice has been stilled, but I surely hope his legacy will remain and that it will include his call for “comity” in the halls of power.

With that, here is a clip from the 2008 Al Smith Memorial Dinner, when Sen. McCain shared a podium with fellow Sen. Barack Obama as the men fought for the presidency.

It gives you a good look at what politics can become and what many of us hope will return … one day.

McCain’s farewell compares to RFK’s

Someone this week compared the farewell of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain to another such long goodbye that occurred 50 years ago, when the nation bid farewell to the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

I found the comparison an apt one, and one that I believe Sen. McCain would approve of.

On June 5, 1968, Sirhan Sirhan stepped out of a crowd in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen and shot RFK, who died the next day. Bobby Kennedy’s death shocked, stunned and saddened the nation.

There was a moving funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and then the slow and emotional train ride from NYC to Washington, where the tracks were lined by millions of mourners waving goodbye to the slain political icon.

They would bury Bobby Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery in a simple grave next to that of his brother, President John F. Kennedy.

Fifty years later, another political titan is getting the deserved long goodbye. John McCain was saluted in Phoenix by friends and loved ones, including his longtime friend and political foe, former Vice President Joe Biden.

His remains then were flown aboard a government jet to Washington, where they will lie in state under the U.S. Capitol Dome in the Rotunda, an honor given only to 31 prior public officials.

There will be another service, with eulogies given by former Presidents Barack H. Obama and George W. Bush, two one-time presidential campaign rivals, but also men Sen. McCain grew to respect.

Then the senator’s remains will be taken to Annapolis, Md., where they will rest for eternity near where McCain’s long, distinguished and heroic public service career began … as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy.

I like the comparison in the way the nation has saluted these men. I would like to believe Bobby Kennedy and John McCain would as well.

Indeed, I am certain the men’s spirits will find each other in heaven and they will share stories of battles won and lost and of the good they both sought to bring to the nation that bade them long and heartfelt farewells.

Why praise someone on the other side?

Roger Kimball, a conservative writer for The Spectator, thinks the New York Times’s praise of the late Sen. John McCain rings hollow.

Indeed, he takes aim at liberals for their high praise of the senator, given his own conservative voting record in the House and the Senate over more than three decades.

Well, I beg to differ with his assertion about the hollow ring of such high-minded rhetoric.

Read Kimball’s essay here.

I consider myself a liberal. Or a progressive. I have stated on this blog many times that I didn’t vote for Sen. McCain when he ran for president as the Republican nominee in 2008. I have opposed his policy and have challenged his constant griping against the man who thumped him in that landmark presidential election a decade ago.

However, the man’s public service is worthy of salute and high praise. His courage in the face of his hideous captivity during the Vietnam War is as well. Sen. McCain’s dignity during his valiant but futile fight against the cancer that took his life commends high praise.

I have been saddened in the extreme by Sen. McCain’s death. He was a man of deep courage, conviction and dedication to his country. He paid a huge price for his service when he was shot down in 1967. He endured more than five years of captivity, came home and continued to serve his beloved country.

Sen. McCain said it well himself by declaring that he “lived and died a proud American.”

How can a liberal look away from such dignity?

Pence is facing a dilemma

They’re going to salute and commemorate the life and public service of the late Sen. John McCain in a few days.

One of those attending is likely to be Vice President Mike Pence, who will represent (a) the Senate where he is the presiding officer and (b) the Donald Trump administration led by a man Sen. McCain said he doesn’t want to attend his funeral.

What in the world is Pence going to tell reporters who are likely to ask him to speak for the president? How might he frame his public remarks if he is asked to speak from the pulpit at the National Cathedral?

The vice president is an honorable man. He and Sen. McCain served together in Congress and by many accounts were friends to the end of McCain’s life. The senator, though, had vastly different views about the president.

Does the VP speak from his heart about McCain on behalf of the president and come off as phony? Or does he offer the bare minimum — kind of like the way Trump offered his “respect” for McCain’s decades of public service and his heroism as a Vietnam War prisoner? If he does the latter, he would come off as sounding cheap and tepid.

Thus, we have the president putting the vice president in a terrible bind by fostering the toxic relationship he had with one of the U.S. Senate’s true giants.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will deliver eulogies in Sen. McCain’s honor. I have no worries about those men speaking from their hearts and offering the kind of respectful and heartfelt rhetoric about their former colleague and foe.

I do worry about Vice President Pence. I hope — and in my heart I believe — he’ll find a way to tap-dance around a delicate subject.